News / Europe

Turkey to France: Block Genocide Bill, or Else

Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament, Ankara, Oct. 11, 2011.
Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament, Ankara, Oct. 11, 2011.
Dorian Jones

Ankara is continuing to ratchet up tensions with Paris over a proposed French law to criminalize denial of claims that Turkey's mass killings of Armenians before and during World War I constitute genocide.

Ankara, which rejects the charge of genocide and argues the widespread killings of its Armenian minority occurred during civil strife in which many Turks died as well, dispatched a high-level delegation of parliamentarians in a last-minute bid to lobby against the proposed law.

Historians say up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, and several countries recognize the killings as genocide. Under the proposed French legislation, denying the genocide would be punishable by up to one year in prison along with a $58,000 fine.

On Saturday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched a stinging attack on France, saying that no historian or politician can see genocide in Turkish history, and that those who do want to see genocide should turn around and look at their own "dirty and bloody history."

Relations between Turkey and France are already tense in connection with French President Nicolas Sarkozy's strong opposition to Ankara's bid to join the European Union. Erdogan last week reportedly sent a letter to Sarkozy warning of dire consequences if the legislation passes.

Diplomatic correspondent Semih Idiz of the Turkish newspaper Milliyet warns such threats should be taken seriously.

"I think it is serious, I think that the government will make a big issue out of this - [it] is not one that they can afford to let go by," he says. "In terms of public opinion, this is one of [the] most [touchy] of issues for Turks, and you cannot just take it lightly."

Opposition to the genocide claim is one of the few issues that unite Turkey's normally polarized main political parties.

The main opposition People's Republican Party is due to send its own deputies to Paris to lobby against the controversial legislation, and the leader of the National Action party, Devlet Bahceli, strongly backs Erdogan's tough stance against Paris.

With such cross-party support, the potential repercussions to French-Turkish relations are expected to be severe. Turkish officials have said their ambassador to France, Tahsin Burcuoglu, will be recalled if the French parliament passes the legislation.

International relations expert Soli Ozel of Kadir Has University warns that will be just the beginning.

"[They could] ban the French companies from all economic bidding," he says. "For the future, [they will] not give the French companies the light of day. And wherever they can block France, they will try to so."

Last week, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu summoned representatives of leading French companies to explain what is at stake for them. With Turkish exchange accounting for 2.5 percent of France's annual international trade, observers say such threats will have a limited effect. But the repercussions of a deepening dispute threaten to extend beyond France to the whole European Union.

"I think there is this negative potential, based on good information the Turkish foreign minister met with EU ambassadors and lashed out at them over this issue," says Idiz.

Foreign Minister Davutoglu has warned the European Union it has a responsibility to protect freedom of speech.

The ongoing crisis in Syria may also be affected. Despite strained relations, Paris and Ankara have found common ground in their opposition to Damascus' ongoing crackdown on dissent.

But the head of the Turkish Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, Volkan Bozkir, warned in Paris that bilateral cooperation in the region would be significantly harmed if the legislation was passed.

You May Like

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid